Paramount has finally released their highly anticipated Blu-ray version of George Pal’s 1953 science fiction classic "The War of the Worlds". Paramount’s 4K restoration of the landmark film occurred several years ago and at that time, fans wondered when it would be available for consumer purchase on Blu-ray even though it has been available on iTunes. The 4K version had several public screenings including one at the Fox Tucson Theatre. Last summer Turner Classic Movies aired it.
This month’s release of the Criterion edition marks the first commercial Blu-ray release of the film in the U.S. Australian based Via Vision Entertainment, under license with Paramount, released their Blu-ray version this past May.
Both the Via Vision and Criterion releases offer the same 4K digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack and a new alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack created by sound designer Ben Burtt. In addition, both releases share material that first appeared on the 2005 Paramount DVD release. This includes an audio commentary by film historian Bob Burns, author Bill Warren and film director, producer and actor Joe Dante; a recording of the original Mercury Theatre on the Air radio play of 1938, a copy of the 2005 documentary The Sky Is Falling about the making of the original film and the theatrical trailer. The Via Vision version includes a photo gallery, audio commentary by Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, and a featurette on H.G. Wells all of which appeared on the 2005 release. The Criterion version includes a radio program from 1940 that features a discussion between Orson Welles and H.G. Wells both of which also appeared in the 2005 release.
The only unique feature to the Via Vision edition is an exclusive audio commentary by film